Jan 19th - 11:36 am
The state Conservative Party’s TV ad campaign against the controversial mosque and cultural center proposed for construction near Ground Zero that become a focus of the 2010 gubernatorial campaign was nearly single-handedly funded by a single individual.
Robert Mercer, co-CEO of the mega-hedge fund manager Renaissance Technologies, contributed $1 million to the party in late July, accounting for almost all of the $1.077 million raised by the Conservatives during the last six-month cycle. H/T POLITICO.
According to NYPIRG’s Bill Mahoney, that $1 million is the second largest donation ever given by an individual to a party committee.
Other notable contributors included: GOP/Conservative state comptroller candidate Harry Wilson ($5,000); the Nassau County Conservative Party ($10,000); the Nassau County GOP ($5,000); the NRA ($5,000); and the Uniformed Firefighters Association ($5,000).
State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long confirmed to POLITICO’s Maggie Haberman (still working while on maternity leave) that Mercer indeed paid for the ad. He also maxed out to the party’s gubernatorial candidate, Rick Lazio, who appeared in the spot.
Lazio, of course, lost the GOP primary to Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino, who also used the mosque as a wedge issue during the campaign. The former Long Island congressman then dropped out of the race rather than remain in the running in the November general election on the minority party line.
Row D went to Paladino, who won a sufficient number of votes, comparable to other minory parties, to restore the Conservatives to Row C for the next four years.
Oct 13th - 1:08 pm
The American Center for Law and Justice has amended its lawsuit challenging the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s vote on the mosque/Islamic Center near Ground Zero to include Mayor Bloomberg, whom the organization asserts used “political pressure” to clear the way for a project he has very vocally supported.
“By refusing to provide pertinent information about his involvement in the project, the Mayor is ignoring the very laws that he has sworn to uphold,” said ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow in a press release.
“The people of New York City deserve to know what role the Mayor played – what political pressures were employed to jam this project through? We will continue to aggressively pursue our legal challenge to the mosque and remain hopeful this mosque will never be built on this site.”
The ACLJ is representing Tim Brown, a NYC firefighter and estwhile state Senate candidate who survived the 9/11 attacks.
The amended suit, which appears below, alleges the commission “acted in an arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable manner and allowed the intended use of the Building and political considerations, including pressures from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who appoints the LPC commissioners, to taint what should be a deliberative, unbiased and apolitical process.”
Sep 24th - 8:19 am
…to go about your day without hearing the words “Ground Zero” and “mosque” in the same sentence…It’s ba-ack.
The uproar over the Park51 project has been relegated to the back burner of late, particularly since last week’s GOP primary showed the issue – a main focus of Rick Lazio’s campaign – was not enough to carry him to victory.
But that doesn’t mean New Yorkers’ views on the subject have changed. According to today’s Q poll, a majority of likely voters (67-21) believe the people behind the project should voluntarily agree to relocate it further away from Ground Zero, even though they have a right to build wherever they’d like.
Sep 14th - 8:15 am
Rachel Maddow last night profiled the GOP gubernatorial primary battle between Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino, a revisited the Buffalo businessman’s e-mail scandal, even displaying some of the racist videos and photos he forwarded to a long list of friends and contacts (albeit none of the porn).
Maddow said she hoped fervently that what Republicans find palatable about Paladino is the fact that he is the “anti-establishment, anti-government spending choice – unless the spending is government rent checks payable to him.”
She also railed against Paladino’s so-called “Dignity Corps”, which she called a “prison-camp-turned-poor-farm” proposal, adding:
“This is his actual policy platform. This is what he’s running on. This isn’t something he said in an e-mail that also included a beastiality video…Poor Farms!…If not criminal, Paladino’s big vision for getting you back to work might still require you to go to prison where you will learn how not to be poor, unemployed or dirty.”
“…”So, the class of 2010 is interesting across the board for this year’s election, but 2010 may go down in political history as the year in which a guy like this isn’t the perennial kook candidate who runs in at least one election every election cycle. He’s actually statistically got a reasonable chance of tomorrow becoming the Republican Party’s nominee for governor of the state of New York. It’s a big year.”
Maddow also interviewed the founder and managing editor of WNYmedia.net, which published Paladino’s e-mails.
Sep 13th - 1:39 pm
GOP/Conservative gubernatorial hopeful Rick Lazio’s running mate, Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards, has been focused largely on retail politics upstate, hitting the county fair circuit hard and trying to shore up support for the duo in rural areas that were once Republican bastions, but have been slowly sliding into the Democratic realm.
Edwards sat down with me last Friday (the night before the ninth anniversary of 9/11) for a CapTon interview and did an admirable job of sticking to his talking points, largely refusing to engage in the Paladino vs. Lazio question and following his No. 1′s lead in focusing on Democratic frontrunner Andrew Cuomo as much as possible.
The LG hopeful slipped ever so slightly just once – right at the end of the interview – when I asked him about the use of graphic 9/11 footage at Ground Zero by Lazio in a Web video and also by the state Conservative Party in a pro-Lazio ad. The spots sparked considerable upset.
Edwards said he’s “sensitive” to the feelings of those who think Ground Zero images should be off-limits for political use. He also said he couldn’t comment directly on the Conservative Party’s ad because he wasn’t involved in it. He did say, however, that “if people had to do it all over again, and it was reviewed, maybe a different approach would have been taken.”
And then he turned the focus back to Cuomo and his refusal to heed calls by Lazio and others to investigate the funding stream of the Park51 project (such as it is at the moment).
Sep 13th - 11:44 am
Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf told members of the Center for Foreign Relations that he is open to heeding calls to relocate the mosque and Islamic center proposed for construction near Ground Zero, and, at the very least, is thinking of putting the entire project on hold.
“Our advisers have been looking at every option, including that…We are exploring all options as we speak here today…everything is on the table” he said.
Rauf declined to give any specifics, but said he and his fellow Park51 supporters are dedicated to creating “the best outcome for all.”
He also stressed that he believes there is “really a need” for a mosque and community center somewhere in Lower Manhattan. That comes as a Marist/DN poll released today that found 48 percent of New Yorkers opposed to the project believe it should be nowhere even remotely close to Ground Zero.
Sep 13th - 8:39 am
Gov. David Paterson wasted no time in returning to a public discussion of the controversial Park5 project, taking to the airwaves with radio host Don Imus to chat about Imam Feisal Adbul Rauf’s latest comments exactly seven days after he had called for a one-week moratorium on the mosque/Islamic center debates.
Paterson defended Rauf against criticism that he is somehow making a threat by saying relocation of the project would ignite anger in Arab countries, admitting that while his remarks might be interpreted that way, they are actually born of “fear.”
“In the last few days, he’s been criticzed for saying that he thinks that if the mosque were moved that it would ignite an anger in a number of Arab countries, and I don’t think that that is a threat that he’s making,” Paterson said.
“I understand that it seems that way…I think it’s a fear that he’s enunciating…But it can very easily lead to the perception, which many are taking, that he’s threatening people.”
Paterson also reiterated – for about the umpteenth time – that government has “no control” over whether the developers and the imam move their project and admitted all his attempts to meet with the people behind Park51 – for whom he stressed he has the utmost “respect” – have all been rebuffed.
Sep 11th - 8:48 am
Here’s something you don’t see every day…A group of self-described “progressive bloggers” from around New York have issued a joint statement on the ninth anniversary of 9/11 in support of the controversial mosque/Islamic center project proposed for construction near Ground Zero.
We, the undersigned, are progressive bloggers from across New York State. We write, report, and opine about the politics, culture, and economies of our diverse communities.
Since the 17th Century, New York State has been a gateway to the New World for people from all over the world – of every color, nation, and creed. Openness, tolerance, and diversity are what made New York great. The movement of people, ideas, and commerce westward to America’s frontier was made possible by all New Yorkers.
The rights guaranteed to us as citizens of New York and the United States are blind to religion or race. We, the undersigned, extend our hands in friendship to Muslim New Yorkers – who, like people of any faith, share our common hopes and dreams for themselves and their children.
In 2001, violent extremists indiscriminately murdered and injured thousands of innocent New Yorkers, including hundreds of Muslims. Those extremists committed their crime in the name of Islam, perverting it into a message of hatred and fear. We remember starkly the pain of this attack, and have overwhelming compassion for its victims and survivors.
But we cannot allow a hateful act to engender new hate. American values, principles, and rights should not be jettisoned because they are claimed by, or owed to, a particular faith whose name was horribly abused. We New York State bloggers believe it is our duty to stand up for the values that make America great – that our laws and Constitution apply equally to all – Muslim and Christian; Jew and Gentile; believers and non-believers.
We, therefore, support and defend the right of Muslim New Yorkers to build a community center on privately owned land in Lower Manhattan.
Phillip Anderson (The Albany Project), Alan Bedenko (BuffaloPundit/WNYMedia.net), Rich Boatti (The Albany Project), Michael Bouldin (The Daily Gotham), Adama D. Brown (GlowDemocrats), Ezra Ford (Jefferson Democrat), Brian Keeler (The Albany Project), Cynthia Kouril (Firedoglake), Elana Levin, David Michaelson (The Daily Gotham), Mark Odien (WNYMedia.net), Liza Sabater (CultureKitchen), Chris Smith (WNYMedia.net), Andrew C. White (The Albany Project)
Sep 10th - 4:44 pm
In what is perhaps the most melodramatic display of the campaign season to date, GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rick Lazio points out what he considers “red flags” relating to the Park51 mosque project to AG Andrew Cuomo.
The one minute and 15 second web video is a compilation of news clips – most of them altered to be black and white – accompanied by some seriously intense music.
Text on the screen describes a series of so-called “red flags” that Lazio claims provide enough evidence for Cuomo to launch an investigation into the project.
“As the Attorney General of New York, it is Andrew Cuomo’s responsibility to oversee charities in this state,” a blurb on Lazio’s campaign site reads.
“Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf’s Cordoba Initiative is one of these charities. Why has Andrew Cuomo ignored the numerous red flags that have appeared in connection with Imam Rauf’s cohorts?
“Why is Andrew Cuomo refusing to do his job?”
Sep 10th - 3:14 pm
President Obama reiterated his support for the Park51 project today – a topic on which there has been some confusion with regard to his position.
As you’ll recall, Obama came a little late to this controversy, but kicked the volume up a notch when he said an at Iftar dinner last month that he believed Muslims have “a right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances.”
The next day, Obama muddied the waters by saying he was talking broadly about rights and not commenting “on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there.” Obama’s press shop went into spint mode, insisting the president had not walked away from his original comments. But the damage was done.
Now we have the following remarks from the president today at his first full press conference since May:
“With respect to the mosque in New York, I think I’ve been pretty clear on my position here, and that is, is that this country stands for the proposition that all men and women are created equal; that they have certain inalienable rights – one of those inalienable rights is to practice their religion freely.”
“And what that means is that if you could build a church on a site, you could build a synagogue on a site, if you could build a Hindu temple on a site, then you should be able to build a mosque on the site.”
The president went on to recognize the “extraordinary sensitivities around 9/11″ but reminded Americans: “We are not at war with Islam; We are at war against terrorist organizations that have distorted Islam or falsely used the banner of Islam to engage in their destructive acts.”
More from the president’s comments on this topics appear after the jump.